I quite like doing DIY these days. It used to intimidate me to the point where I would take one look at the instructions and give up.
It grated on my sense of independence that I had to ask other people for help every time I needed something as basic as a bookshelf putting together.
Now I am slowly learning things like ‘how to use a drill’ and ‘how door handles work’. It’s really satisfying when I complete a job well.
I’ve not got much better at deciphering the weird, internationally-‘readable’ hieroglyphics that come with kits, you understand. It’s more that:
1. I’m learning to take on the tasks when I’m alone
Embarrassment, and my hotly defensive reaction to it, it one of my biggest personality flaws. This is quite common for someone with ADHD.
Mistakes (like installing the door handle the wrong way around) are irritating but can be calmly dealt with if I’m on my own.
If somebody is watching while I learn by trial and error, I am likely to get frustrated and angry very quickly. In my head, my brain is yapping: “You look like an idiot. It’s his fault, why is he looming over you like that? Who invented door handles anyway? Bollocks to all of it.”
Alone, my internal monologue is more like, “Oops! Guess we live and learn. Now, how do I detach it?”
If you’re worried about hurting yourself, or really don’t know the first thing about power tools, then obviously get someone to help you the first couple of times. Don’t injure yourself in the name of productivity.
2. I’m only doing DIY when I have lots of free time
Sounds obvious, but some of this comes down to another ADHD trait: an inability to guess how long a task is likely to take.
I have started a hundred tasks that ‘should’ have taken 20 minutes and ended up getting distracted, wandering off-track, messing something up etc… and then, suddenly, I’m very late for an appointment I should have had hours to get to.
I’m learning to second guess my estimations, and give myself time to make lots of mistakes, pop to the shops when I forget something important, and stop for a few coffee breaks. If I feel rushed, I’m more likely to make mistakes and worsen the entire situation.
Best of all is when I have nowhere else to be for the whole day. Saturdays are best for this.
3. Watching videos
I hate watching instructional videos. I would much rather someone wrote out a detailed, clear step-by-step guide with pictures.
Sitting through a five-minute video is much more of a chore than spending 20 minutes searching for the perfect web page. This is possibly because I have a hard time paying attention to someone speaking; plus, it’s harder to ‘scroll back’ if I misunderstand or need a reminder for something specific.
Unfortunately, the perfect web page seldom actually exists. On the other hand, YouTube is stuffed with weirdly specific videos for every brand and model of tumble drier or patio furniture you care to mention.
The problem with written guides seems to be getting worse, if anything, as Google is filled up with key-word-heavy, copy-pasted, content-milled (or computer-generated) bullshit instead of quality content.
You know the sort:
“So you are having a problem with [ISSUE]. This is a frustrating DIY issue that many of us face in our day-to-day DIY projects. Luckily, we shall look at [ISSUE] so that you may complete your DIY needs.
1. [COMPLETE ISSUE NORMALLY]
2. If this does not work, call in a handyman for the completion of [ISSUE] to a high standard
I hope this guide has helped you with your aim of [ISSUE] in DIY
It’s even worse for anything involving computers. Shudder.
For someone who’s made money from content generation sites I’m super judgy about websites who use them.
Because of this, and because of medication, I’ve developed the patience to search for a relevant video and watch it all the way through. I still don’t enjoy doing it, and I often need to track back and rewatch certain bits three or four times, but it’s improved the results of my projects tenfold.
There are times when my ADHD actually benefits the DIY process, believe it or not. If ‘hyper focus’ kicks in then I’m going to get the project done, no matter how difficult it turns out to be.
Not only that, but it’s going to look good at the end. When I finally did replace the aforementioned door handle, the job looked better than the one the landlord did elsewhere in the house.